Dr. Hartenbach always reminds parents not to give aspirin to children or adolescents with chicken pox because of the link with Reye's syndrome, a dangerous and sometimes fatal illness. Warning signs for Reye's syndrome include the inability to wake up, confusion, trouble walking and stiffness in the neck.
Difficulty breathing or lesions in the eye also are reasons to call the doctor. They could be indications that the virus has spread internally and needs treatment. "Of course, children with compromised immune systems from AIDS or from taking cancer drugs or steroids should be seen whenever they are hit with a virus," Dr. Hartenbach says.
A vaccine for chicken pox is now available for immunization that is 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing the disease. Some pediatricians recommend it as a single shot for children ages 12 months to 12 years who have not had the disease. Children ages 13 to 18 who have not had chicken pox should receive two doses four to eight weeks apart. Dr. Hartenbach points out that the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advises parents to add the vaccine to their children's immunization list.